Lab 12: Crisis Communication

Picture this: it’s been a tough start to the year, having to get back into work mode from all that time off over the holidays, and you’ve barely seen your loved ones for what seems like more than a quick second. But all of that is about to change; it’s Valentine’s Day and your boss gave you the day off to fly home to see your family. You’re looking good, you’re bags are packed, and you’ve even arrived to the airport early. Despite the “ice-storm” warnings that you don’t need to worry about due to no cancellations, everything seems to be in tip-top shape. As you’re boarding the plane and making yourself comfortable in your seat, just before you’re about to doze off, the flight attendant comes on the speaker: “Attention JetBlue customers, our flight take-off will be delayed slightly; we thank you for your patience and will be lifting off momentarily”.

(Image courtesy of Emirates.com)

If you were one of the 130,000+ customers of JetBlue on February 14th, 2007, you don’t have to picture it- you experienced it first hand! Due to JetBlue (whose home-base is JFK airport in NY, where this happened) underestimating just how bad this ice storm was going to be, it took six hours for passengers that were stuck on the plane, ON the ramp, to make it back to a GATE to get off- not at their destination- at the same place they got on; not to mention the flights that were having difficulty landing. For all you readers that think this sounds hectic enough, it wasn’t. Everything continued to trickle down the gutter for JetBlue over the next six days. So what went terribly wrong with JetBlue that day, and why did it take six days to fix? Independent to that day, JetBlue depended solely on a dispersed workforce reservations system, the web, and no sign of a plan B.

It wouldn’t come as a shock if JetBlue lacked an issues manager, as Seitel discusses in chapter 19 of his book, The Practice of Public Relations. An issues manager could have helped in assuring a crisis like this wouldn’t happen, or at least be a clean and fast recovery. The issues manager has a five-step process to go by, but in sum their goal is to delegate the process to help preserve markets, reduce risk, create opportunities, and manage image as an organizational asset for the benefit of an organization (Seitel). In this case, JetBlue only increased their risk. For big companies like them, it isn’t the best idea to have a dispersed workforce in charge of the reservations- meaning their agents are working from home to have more flexibility. Shouldn’t the customer have the most flexibility? This is something that should have been executed differently. If you want to give your employees flexible hours, fine; but make those hours require their attendance.

However, they did seem to respond okay, depending on how you look at it. A crisis as big as this, that caused over 1,000 flights to be cancelled over the next six days and only 17 of the 165 flights to have taken the day of, demands personal care. CEO David Neeleman took it upon himself to publicly apologize to the 130,000+ customers affected by the cancellations, delays, and diversions; he even offered some generous compensation. Any customer that was sitting on a plane for more than three hours received a full refund of their flight (ya think!) and a free voucher for any round-trip flight. Well, that’s a start. Additionally, Neeleman went on to issue a Customer Bill of Rights on February 21st. This piece of news was just as hot as the crisis itself. The policy offered explicit compensation for any future complications associated with flights and offered a whopping $1000 if a customer is involuntarily bumped from a flight due to overbooking. Since I’m not a JetBlue customer, I’m looking at this as a third party. Before this crisis, they had such loyal customers that were always satisfied with their services; was it neccessary to publicly issue a Customer Bill of Rights? Inconvenienced customers should be compensated in some way, but asserting a plan for if that does happen could have been efficient enough.

No matter how many apologies are issued, the question still remained: What has JetBlue learned from this and what plans are they implementing to avoid future crisis’? Although this crisis was unfortunate, JetBlue turned it into a huge wake-up call and learning experience. Because of this crisis, it was brought to Neeleman’s attention that he had endless employees willing to help, but they didn’t know how. They weren’t trained for this. Julia Hanna, associate editor of Harvard Business School, states: “Neeleman told the New York Times, “We had an emergency control center full of people who didn’t know what to do. I had flight attendants sitting in hotel rooms for three days who couldn’t get a hold of us. I had pilots e-mailing me say, ‘I’m available, what do I do?'” No CEO should ever has employees so helpless at such a time of need. In retrospect, he learned from it and during that crisis CIO Charles Mees was devising a plan to fix it. Mees “created a database to track crew locations and contact information, later adding new functions that would allow pilots and crew to type in their locations via mobile Internet devices (Hanna). As for Neeleman, he conducted employee-cross training so that 900 corporate employees could assist JFK.

Anybody can look at this crisis and say what they would have done differently; heck, Neeleman did that himself. But in the end, crisis’ happen and the best thing for any organization- big or small- to do is have a plan of action for them. Neeleman took full responsibility for this large hiccup and did what he felt necessary to restore his customers faith in JetBlue. The three major lessons to be learned here is 1)have a team of issues managers, 2) have all employees fully trained for their job and any sudden issues that may arise, and 3) have consistent evaluations on operating processes and decide where greater structure is needed. After reading all of this, if you were searching for a flight in the future, would you consider JetBlue?

*This video is one of the personal apologies CEO of JetBlue, David Neeleman made to the public.

 

The video displayed is credited to YouTube.

Hanna, Julia. “JetBlue’s Valentine’s Day Crisis.” Harvard Business School. N.p., 31 Mar 2008. Web. 14 Jun 2013. <http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/5880.html&gt;.

Seitel, Fraser. The Practice of Public Relations. 11th edition. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc., 2010. Print.

McGregor, Jena. “An Extraordinary Stumble at JetBlue.” Bloomberg Business Week. 4 Mar 2007: n. page. Web. 14 Jun. 2013. <http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2007-03-04/an-extraordinary-stumble-at-jetblue&gt;.

Lab #11: Going Social

(Image courtesy of Zoe’s Kitchen’s catering page.)

For this assignment, the task was to pick a company and conduct a communication audit on their social media use. Considering all of the social media outlets we would assess the company on, it needed to be a relevant company that has integrated itself into that realm. Zoe’s Kitchen is a casual-type restaurant that has done just that. For any readers that haven’t experienced the bliss of eating at Zoe’s before, here is some background information. Zoe Cassimus was born in the Mediterranean and raised in the South. She always found herself entertaining and cooking for others, so Cassimus decided to share her deliciously fresh and healthy recipes with the world.

Company website

Zoe’s Kitchen does a great job connecting with the public through social media. Their prime interaction is their website. The goal is to educate the public on their company, it’s history, and the fresh Mediterranean ingredients used to make-up the menu. It supplies the public with a great deal of content: their full menu, catering options, locations, career opportunities, and even gift cards. At the top of their website, you can even send them an email with any thoughts or concerns you have. It is updated frequently. There is a news link on the left of the page that features YouTube videos to update the public with what the company is doing; there are even videos of founder Zoe Cassimus herself! All of this information makes their website very interactive, supplying the public with any information they want to know about the company.

Twitter

On the bottom of their website is an icon to their Twitter profile. Aside from their website, this is the main way Zoe’s Kitchen stays in contact with the public. Their goal is to do just that: stay connected with their public. The ages of their public ranges from young teens to the elderly, so staying current in social media is a way to connect with the younger crowd. It’s also a good way to advertisement and connect with other businesses. The content included through Twitter ranges from new menu options to promotions going on. They typically tweet or respond to a follower daily. This contributes to it being interactive. On Monday, Tiffany Cruz tweeted that she wished there was a location near her; Zoe’s immediately responded by wishing the same and asking her to email them where she lived so they can start looking for real estate. Talk about customer service!

Facebook

With over 80,000 likes on their Facebook page, it seems to be a good social media source for Zoe’s Kitchen. Zoe’s goal here is similar to Twitter, just with more room to do so. The downside to Twitter is you can only tweet so many characters; no worries, because whatever can’t fit in a tweet can fit in a status update on Facebook. Most of the content included on Facebook is any news related to Zoe’s Kitchen, the 87 locations, or Zoe herself. The most recent piece of news- currently broadcasted in each store- is that Cassimus is going to be the first person ever to run the Tour de France. If you donate $5 to help her raise money for The World Pediatric Project, you’ll get $5 off your next visit. Their Facebook is updated daily, just as Twitter- social media never sleeps. It’s proven to be quite interactive. As I’m blogging, 2,025 Facebook friends are currently talking about Zoe’s.

Fuel Zoes Run

 

(Image courtesy of Zoe’s Kitchen’s website.)

YouTube

As mentioned earlier, Zoe’s Kitchen creates multiple videos through YouTube that are posted on their website under the “news” tab. YouTube has become pertinent in companies, whether it’s used to advertise, inform, or entertain. Their goal is to do all of the above. They have their own YouTube channel, and the content is abundant. They broadcast details about the different locations, upcoming promotions, Zoe Cassimus’ latest project, ingredient information, etc. Videos aren’t posted as frequent as their tweets, but they stay current. It’s a great interaction with the public because it gives a visual to what the company really does; it matches the words with the actions.

Pinterest

Zoe’s Kitchen’s Pinterest page is full of life! It features 8 pages: live for Mediterranean, goodness, Zoe’s, fresh, our guests, for fit, for family, and in the kitchen. It showcases their goals through photos and quotes and includes a range of content, from recipes to guides to being fit and healthy. Their activity isn’t as often on here, but the seem to pin every one to two weeks. It seems to be effective with interacting with their public; they currently have 989 followers. Communication on Pinterest is solely through photos, so this wouldn’t be as reliable as the mediums above.

LinkedIn/Foursquare

Zoe’s LinkedIn page is pretty brief. Being that it is a networking site, it really just gives an overview of their company and any hiring information for their locations. The goal here is strictly business, seeking new employees and to interact with any who are current. Information is posted every couple of days, so it stays current. Interaction of the public is limited, being that you can only view the company’s interaction. Zoe’s use of foursquare is also minimal. On their behalf, it’s only purpose is to locate a destination. Still, they include an overview of the company, the menu, and the location information. It’s edited if a new location arises, and is not preferred for interaction with the public.

They still do not have an instagram, or any industry-specific platform. I would highly recommend an instagram, because it’s a great way to advertise and show off their recipes. In regards to the platforms above, I think they’re doing an awesome job using them to stay current and connected with the public.

Lab #10: Strategic Story Design

Tweets for Thought

Engaging students in and out of the classroom through social media.

Twitter picture

The Knight School of Communication here at Queens University is always finding ways to integrate new learning techniques through social media outlets, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Social media and digital literacy has become a trademark of the Communications department at Queens. The Knight School professors even encourage students to practice these outlets for in-class discussions. Dr. John A. McArthur, Associate Professor of the Knight School of Communication, exemplifies leadership in this area.

In Dr. McArthur’s Integrated Strategic Communication class in the summer of 2013, his students were administered a Twitter lab. The assignment was to practice the use of successful and meaningful tweets three times a day for a solid week. Students were encouraged to communicate with their fellow classmates using the hash tag #Comm306, making it easier to find and share with everyone. In addition, it motivated students to share compelling articles they found related to the communications field while also tying it into the class, as well as the Knight School.

It taught the students a variety of skills. As every step or grade level in a student’s academic career is geared toward preparing you for the next, this Twitter lab did just that. In the Communications field, social media is key, but it’s not as simple as sending a tweet; it needs to be informative, interesting, and professional. Tweeters need to consider their audience and the message they are sending. Also, reflect on why you’re tweeting in the first place.

Dr. McArthur shared a list of reasons as to why he chooses to tweet with his class. They fit the criteria: be informative, interesting and professional. His first reason was that it connects him with others. “People can find me (and I can find them). I’ve had excellent interactions with students, journalists, television personalities, authors, and other professors that I never would have had without Twitter.” He also claims it engages his interests, saying “Conversations abound on infinite subjects on Twitter”, and that it promotes his work. Not only has he, himself, learned from Twitter, but it allows him to discover new people and events daily.

All of these reasons are seen as motivators to his students. Aside from wanting to be successful in the class, the root of that comes from learning. By Dr. McArthur incorporating these unique assignments into his classes, he is not only being creative in his teaching, but genuinely preparing his students for the way of the world: through social media. His efforts are teaching his students to be exactly as their tweets should be: informative, interesting, and professional. With continuing efforts such as these, the Knight School students of Dr. McArthur’s are sure to be nothing less than successful.

Some schools, and even some professors, might find this assignment and teaching technique a little unorthodox; that’s what separates Queens University from all the rest. Queens is constantly developing groundbreaking initiatives, and the Knight School of Communication is always ready to contribute.  Our world is vastly changing around us, with social media and digital literacy being a prime way to stay in communication with people, businesses, schools, and the world globally.

Kimberlee Servideo is a rising senior at Queens University of Charlotte, who is working towards her Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Communication.

McArthur, John. “Why I Tweet.” WordPress. N.p., 11 Feb 2011. Web. 9 Jun. 2013. <http://jamcarthur.com/2010/02/11/why-i-tweet/&gt;.

Lab #9: The Biography

There are a number of ways to receive communication today. The most common is online, however print is still used for those old fashion folks out there. A media kit is vital and widely used as a written vehicle for public relations work. Serving as a “calling card” to give an introduction to the media on the organization, it also incorporates several communications vehicles for potential use by newspapers and magazines (Seitel). One of the many items that makes up a media kit is the biography.

The biography recounts pertinent facts about a particular individual (Seitel). Some examples are eulogies and inscriptions. This is an absolute necessity for the media kit. There are two types of biographies: the straight biography and the narrative biography. The straight biography simply lists factual information in a straightforward fashion in descending order of importance. Any company related facts precede the more personal details (Seitel). When you’re reading a straight biography, it almost feels like you’re reading a more wordy version of their resume.

The narrative biography is much more relaxed, if you will. It is written in a breezier, more informal way (Seitel). This version of a biography might catch a readers interest quicker because it typically brings the individual to life, as if you’ve met the person being described before. When I think of a narrative biography, after reading Seitel’s descriptions of it, I think of giving someone a “tribute to honor” speech: it includes personal details of the honoree and has a more intimate feel than the straight biography.

A straight biography on Dr. Nilofar (Lily) Halsted:

Dr. Nilofar (Lily) Halsted is an Associate Professor of the Psychology Department in the College of Arts and Sciences at Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Halsted has been with Queens University since 1997; it was Queens College until 2006. She has been an Assistant Professor of the Psychology Department since 2006 (tenure track).

Dr. Halsted has four degrees, all achieved at the University of Oregon. She earned her PhD in developmental psychology and her master’s degree is in cognitive psychology and psycholinguistics. In addition, she earned two bachelor’s degrees: one in cellular and molecular biology and one in psychology. She has served as Chair of the Internship Committee in the years 2007-2009, was a member of the Internship Committee from the years 2005-2007, and hosted Internship presentations from 2006-2009. In addition, she served on the faculty hiring team for Sociology in 2009.

Dr. Halsted offers an array of psychology courses regularly. These include Developmental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, General Psychology, Infant and Child Development, Psychology of Learning, Physiological Psychology and Psycholinguistics. She also teaches Core 412 Ethics, and has taught Information Literacy in Psychology in the past. She is currently conducting a survey on the study of bilinguality, cognitive and school achievement, focusing on Queens students.

A narrative biography on Dr. Nilofar (Lily) Halsted:

Dr. Nilofar Halsted, who most here at Queens know as Lily, is one of the most talented, knowledgeable professors to become a part of Queens University of Charlotte. She has two bachelor’s degrees: one in psychology, with the other in cellular and molecular biology. Additionally, she received a master’s degree in psycholinguistics and a PhD in developmental psychology, all from the University of Oregon. Initially following her passion for developmental psychology, she quickly discovered she had more than one when she became a research assistant at the University of Oregon- she wanted to teach. Her research was done on infants, children, and adults. She found such joy out of it. Dr. Halsted wanted to find a way to continue to learn and research what she loved- psychology- while also sharing that with others; thus, she became a professor.

Before becoming a Professor at Queens College in 1997 (now Queens University), she taught at Bard College in Annadale, NY, Wingate University in Matthews, NC, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Since her start at Queens University, she has excelled from a part time instructor to an Assistant Professor of Psychology (tenure track) and holds a spot on the University’s Board of Review. Additionally, her professional memberships include: American Psychology Association, Association for Psychological Science, Southeastern Psychological Association, and Learning and the Brain Society.

If you have had the opportunity of being one of Dr. Halsted’s students, have been her co-worker, or know her on a personal level, you know you are one lucky person. You’ll always find her in a cheerful mood with a smile on her face. Her love for her work grows each and every day and it shows through her teaching. Her lessons are always memorized, with each one being genuine and authentic. Her experiences are inspirational, and you never finish a conversation with her without learning something new.

Seitel, Fraser. The Practice of Public Relations. 11th edition. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc., 2010. Print.

Lab #8: Community Fundraising – The Silent Walk for My Refuge House

Dear John A. McArthur,

On behalf of My Refuge House, I am writing to you in regards to an upcoming fundraiser we are planning. My Refuge House is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that provides a safe home to empower and restore survivors of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) and abuse. With our main location in Cebu, Philippines, My Refuge House provides holistic care intended to enable the trafficking survivors educationally, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally to stand on their own again.

We recently joined forces with Slavery No More, an organization working to combat and abolish modern-day slavery and human trafficking, and to create awareness and a diversity of opportunities for meaningful personal engagement, located in Calabasas, California. Together we will serve the victims of human trafficking.

On Friday, June 14th, members of both My Refuge House and Slavery No More, along with their survivors, will par take in The Silent Walk. The Silent Walk will commence at sunset and all participants will walk for an hour of silence with a candle in hand. The walk will take place at the location of Slavery No More in Calabasas, California; in addition, all of our members and survivors in Philippines will participate there as well.

We are opening The Silent Walk to the community of Calabasas, with a $15 entrance fee, in hopes of the people in our community joining us. All participants will receive a free wrist band, with the fundraiser and date on it. Our hope is to raise as much money as we can, while honoring our rescued survivors and the victims still at harm. No amount is insignificant.

Our two goals for this fundraiser are to 1) spread awareness of sex trafficking and modern-day slavery and 2) raise $400,000 in monetary donations. The community of Calabasas has proven in the past to join together for a cause, and the population is around 23,000. If the majority of our community members join us on this walk, we should hit that mark. Those who enter can do so online or in person before the walk commences. All of this information will be available via the website listed below.
We, along with our survivors, will be making flyers for the fundraiser to distribute throughout the community. We’ve informed our local stores and they allotted us the permission to distribute flyers throughout their stores, as well as having them next to the daily paper on the way out. For additional publicity, our event will be featured on the front of the paper approximately one week before it takes places. Our local Starbucks heard of the efforts we are making and offered their support by advertising at their store and collecting donations.
In order to plan accordingly, all stores will be checked periodically to see if flyers are being picked up and recognized. Our local Starbucks will be checked every three days to pick up any donations. Crystal Sprague, Executive Director of My Refuge House, and I will be responsible for doing so.

Sprague, along with the remaining board members of our organization and Slavery No More, would like to extend the offer to any interested in volunteering or donating in this honorable fundraiser. We encourage those to share any leadership direction they might have for us to further improve our fundraiser.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards,

Kimberlee Servideo
Fundraiser Coordinator for My Refuge House
Charlotte, North Carolina 28277
(C): (704) 877-9532
Email: kimberlee.servideo@queens.edu


(Image is credited to myrefugehouse.org)

For more information on My Refuge House and their mission, please visit their website here.

For more information on Slavery No More and their partnership with My Refuge House, please visit their website here.

Lab #7: Consumer Generated Media

    H&M is a fashion clothing store that prides itself on great quality for a low price. With their European style and multiple celebrity endorsements- currently being Queen B herself, Beyonce- they’ve attracted the attention of many. I view H&M as a sister store to Forever 21, just better quality with sustainability. H&M has gone global, is worn by some of the top celebrities, and has a wide variety of customers that always come back- so what could they possibly have to improve on?

Just because a company has gone global, doesn’t mean they’ve reached perfection. Is any company perfect? (Let’s not all jump to answer at once.) As I was looking through H&M’s Facebook page, I did see numerous positive comments posted by customers that “like” their Facebook page. They post pictures of new clothing items, reminders about upcoming sales, and give outfit suggestions to spice up your look- all of which seem to be a big hit with their clientele. However, I did come across a few complaints. One customer expressed the idea of expanding their size range, and another complained about a new dress they posted under $20 that wasn’t in her local H&M store. These seem typical, right? They can’t possibly make every size or have every single item they make in every single store. That’s something that customers do need to understand. However, with the internet allowing us to be online shoppers, we could assume that we should be able to do so if we don’t have a local H&M store.

 H&M Screen Shot

    Not the case. This past week, H&M posted a recent ad on their Facebook page about great “Memorial Day Fashion Finds”, starting at just $5. Included in that post, they supplied their customers with a link that directs you to a store-locator to make shopping as easy as possible for you. One customer shared her opinion about their lack of success with online shopping: they don’t have USA online shopping. She then briefly went on to point out that by lack of this, they are losing a lot of money. Another customer soon replied and agreed. Nicely enough, H&M noticed these two complaints quickly and replied: “We will have online shopping later this summer. Subscribing to our newsletter will update you on when the official date will be so you don’t want to miss out”, and also supplied a direct link to the newsletter (H&M).

Now, it’s rare that companies reach out and respond to your complaints- especially with the insane amount they receive on their social media pages- so it was great that H&M did. This is a great way that they can aim to keep customers. If these two people are customers without online shopping, it’s a sure thing that they’ll remain customers now that their complaint will soon be put to rest. However, there are probably many more complaints floating around there, that are number 912 on the list of 2,000 comments. How can they possibly keep track of them all?

In this response, it might have been beneficial to include some sort of online feedback or complaint forum as opposed to customers having to rely on the companies “slight” chance of noticing their comment. They also didn’t show much care that the customers were so upset. Yes, they ultimately fixed the problem by supplying them with information on when they will have online shopping, but with lack of interest that their customers were upset. It was almost like a generated message you get on the phone. I realize it’s Facebook, so you simply can’t get a feel for if someone is showing emotion, but it is social media. I would have included something along the lines of, “We’re so sorry (insert customers names) for the inconvenience this has been! We are happy to inform you that you will have access to online shopping by the end of the summer! To stay informed, sign up for our newsletter that will update you on the dates, along with deals and promotions! Our best, H&M.” This seems a bit over the top, but customers will feel much more appreciated and heard.

In our class text, Seitel talks about “magic words”. Since we have become so prone to voice mail, email, and generated voice recordings, it is nice when you do hear these “magic words”: We’ll take care of that for you, Consider it done, etc. Elaborating on them is key in my opinion- tell the customer what they need to hear, but also make sure it’s truthful. You’d hate to say “consider it done” if in actuality, it isn’t. I thought H&M handled this complaint well, but could have improved by showing more care and concern. After all, without customers they’d be out of business.

First image displayed is credited to About.com.

Screen shot displayed is credited to H&M’s Facebook page.

Seitel, Fraser. The Practice of Public Relations. 11th edition. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc., 2010. Print.

Lab #6: Web-Based Primer

For Dr. McArthur’s Integrated Strategic Communications class, I was to create a video on Censorship Laws of the Internet. The purpose was to include the main idea of the law, the definition of the law, how it became enacted, and key tips for a communications professional to remember.